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Border Patrol Saves Humanitarian Aid Workers

Audio

Aired 1/16/13

With temperatures dropping, people crossing the border illegally have been at risk of freezing to death in the wide open desert. The freeze has even affected humanitarian volunteers going out to help them.

— With temperatures dropping, people crossing the border illegally have been at risk of freezing to death in the wide open desert. The freeze has even affected humanitarian volunteers going out to help them.

For years, Kathryn Ferguson has worked with humanitarian aid groups providing water and food to illegal migrants in the desert. In the winter, it’s warm clothes, sweaters, socks, even hot chocolate.

On a cold morning last week, she set out with another volunteer from the Tucson Samaritans. They climbed into the mountains near Nogales and then returned to their car. That’s when the trouble started. The car’s battery was dead.

"And we had no cell service on the phones," she said. "We spent about an hour walking up and down these hills trying to get cell service.”

They were able to use the GPS alert on the car to notify someone at home and that person called 911. With the sun setting and temperatures quickly dropping into the 20s, two Border Patrol agents arrived to give them a jump.

Ferguson says she was fortunate. Border Patrol agents have had to take in dozens of people this winter to treat them for exposure.

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